SAFETY: Rhode Island DOT installing $2 million in advanced wrong-way signs

Eleven wrong-way accidents in three years prompt state to look to radar technology

April 07, 2014

With 11 wrong-way accidents occurring in the last three years, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) announced plans to install new electronic wrong-way signs in an effort to reduce accidents. The project is expected to cost $2 million.

The new advanced signage features built-in radar that can detect when a vehicle travels past going the wrong direction. When a vehicle is detected, the system automatically sends e-mail and text message alerts to the Rhode Island state police.

RIDOT expects to deploy the new signs at approximately two dozen high-risk exit ramps across the state, focusing on Rte 95, 195, 295 and 146—Rhode Island’s four major highways. The agency will also increase the number of traditional wrong-way signs at more than 200 exit ramps.

In the long term, RIDOT is contemplating connecting the signs to electronic message boards so that drivers could know if a wrong-way vehicle was heading their direction. No timetable has been given for these future enhancements.

A 2012 NTSB report showed that the rate of wrong-way accidents is on the rise nationwide, with an average of 360 deaths annually in 260 accidents. The report also showed that wrong-way accidents are more likely to occur between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.